I believe in aliens.
I know they're out there. I bet they're hiding under my porch right now, invaders from Mars.
And it wouldn't surprise me if Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. is employing them as strikebreakers at its various tire plants in the U.S.
I arrived at this conclusion after hearing about the recent speech in Washington by the president of the United Steelworkers of America. George
Becker, now the ultimate chief of the former United Rubber Workers, declared at a press conference that Bridgestone/Firestone imported workers from Brazil and Japan to replace striking union members at its U.S. plants. Private investi gators had uncovered this fact, he said.
He didn't offer proof, and the Washington Press Corps attending the dog-and-pony show-quite used to outlandish, unsubstantiated charges-didn't ask for any.
One of our reporters tried to pin down the USWA on the claims, but we're still awaiting a response.
I figure Becker is just confused. It must be aliens that were brought in as scabs.
That makes more sense than transferring Brazilian workers to the U.S. to work at tire plants. And the Japanese? Give me a break. Why pay the huge financial and possible political cost when Bridgestone/Firestone merely could truck in workers from any depressed area of the U.S.?
I understand the USWA's purpose in all this. A promise to make the URW's fight with Bridgestone its own cause was a major reason the URW membership voted to join the Steelworkers. The USWA now must demonstrate its power and credibility.
Unless it shows proof of its ``imported workers'' charge, that credibility will be damaged.
The Steelworkers are up against a formidable opponent in Bridgestone. The union's tactics in the struggle-such as a boycott of Bridgestone with pickets at dealerships and Sears, Roebuck and Co., and taking the fight to Japan-seem weak. How about this idea, as espoused by Becker: ``We will have protests at every (Pittsburgh) Pirates home game this year.'' Wow. That should reach about 500 people.
Of course, the Steelworkers have to do something, because Bridgestone/Firestone isn't finished throttling the union yet. The company is showing that in Russellville, Ark., where the tire maker wants to increase the cost of health care for its workers from zero to as high as $816 a year for family coverage-quite a chunk from the old paycheck of a blue-collar worker. This at a plant where the union signed a no-strike clause in its last contract.
No one is demonstrating any humanity in this struggle.
Noga is editor of Rubber & Plastics News.